"I would never have presumed that so, Lizzy. Such musical tastes are so…"
"Oh my, heavens no!" Georgiana quickly replies, bringing a hand to her mouth in horrified surprise. Stepping away from the pianoforte, she takes her newest friend by her hand. "Mary," she implores, "Please tell your dear sister that I have not and shall not ever find her ordinary. You have borne witness to us all during the entirety of your visit. And being quite the astute observer of our very human natures, surely you must not think I would deliberately seek to insult Mrs. Darcy so?"
"Of course not. Your character I hold in the highest esteem," Mary retorts with quiet determination. "And I will not abide such falsities against it," she continues, squeezing Georgiana's hand in reassurance. Her cheeks turning pink at the attention now focused on her, she too steps away from the pianoforte, her previous duty as Georgiana's page-turner at an end. Elizabeth finds herself unable to contain her smile at her sister's words or apparently contented disposition. She had proven right in inviting her for an extended stay this spring; declining to accompany Kitty on her trip to Bath with the Gardiners, she'd been the only daughter left at Longburn for the last fortnight or so, hence the invitation to Pemberley. As a result, Mary and Georgiana seemed to be getting along winningly, their reticent temperaments drawn out by each other's company, with Darcy pleased to see the improvement in both of them.
"I knew you would see it so! Your tastes are not mundane, Lizzy. They are simply, well, unexpected," Georgiana replies as she leads Mary to the bookshelf so that she may pick out some further diversion. Without warning, Darcy suddenly launches into a coughing fit, bringing Elizabeth out of her thoughts.
"Oh, do not try to cover up your laughter through use of that old game, Fitzwilliam!" Elizabeth snorts, tossing a ribbon at him. "And I freely admit my musical preferences may use a fair amount improvement and advancement," she continues as he easily catches the falling bit of silk from where he sits on the ornately trimmed chaise lounge opposite her, pitching it back into the basket lying at her feet.
"I believe such improvements require practice, for practice leads to enhancement of not only what you speak, but also various other undertakings. Or so you made plain to me once before in the distant past," he sniffs. "And my dear, it is quite improper to fling things about in the house. We are civilized, after all. And I simply cannot afford for you to go breaking the invaluable historical artifacts I have lying about," he finishes as he flicks open the morning newspaper.
"So you mean to say that a miniscule bit of silk such as this," she counters, taking it from the basket of already sorted ribbons and tossing it into another one filled with the unsorted, "May damage something?"
"I do not pretend to be familiar with such womanly pursuits," he shrugs as he gazes at his wife over the edge of his paper. "That specific bit of silk may be 'miniscule,' as you put it. But the next one may weigh not much less than a ton."
"You are impossible!" she rejoins.
"As are you, Lizzie. Can you not see why we are so poorly suited? After all, how may I love the sort of creature who contains an undying admiration of Mozart? It is all so…ordinary, as Georgiana puts it," he answers with a careless wave of his hand, though she swears she may see the beginnings a grin come to his face.
"I never recounted that she was ordinary!" Georgiana exclaims, cheeks turning pink.
"Ah, but you were thinking it, no?" he replies, arching an incredulous brow.
"Come now, I was not!"
"You've never proven a particularly good liar."
"And you've never proven particularly astute!"
"My, my, such impertinence. I must keep you away from Lizzy, a poor example she appears to be setting for you," he smirks.
"I shall tolerate no slander of my dear sister," Georgiana retorts, her smirk matching his own as she takes a seat next to him.
"And I appreciate such loyalty," Elizabeth exclaims, giving a reassuring smile to her sister-in-law. "One of many virtues so rarely seen, such lessons obviously taking to you far better than to another Darcy who shall remain unnamed," she continues as Georgiana vigorously nods her head in affirmation, suppressing a laugh as she begins on a bit of embroidery she's started earlier in the morning.
"I know when I have been so duly abandoned by the majority of those I hold in high esteem," Darcy retorts with a put-upon sigh, flipping his paper to the next page. "That leaves only one person worthy of such regards, who is better than you all…Mary? Can you not come to your dear brother's defense? I fear he is in the process of suffering utter defeat via a sound verbal thrashing," he implores as she takes a seat next to Elizabeth and arranges the stack of books in her hands next to her. Slowly looking between Elizabeth and Darcy and then back to Elizabeth, she simply shrugs her shoulders.
"I fear you have dug yourself into a hole you now find yourself unable to climb out of," she murmurs, opening one of the books. "Perhaps you may wish to avow yourself on my sister's mercies? I cannot betray her, sir," she muses as she begins to read. The uncharacteristically amused expression on her face causes Elizabeth to laugh aloud as Darcy groans.
"Oh, what betrayal has been done to me!" he sighs. "Pray tell, what actions have I undertaken to deserve such dismal accolades?"
"The bonds of sisterly affection have done you in, I fear," Mary replies evenly, her slight grin now evident though she does not look up from her reading. "However, a few things may break it. One may be, let us say, an agreement with said sister's melodic leanings?"
"Fine, fine," Darcy counters. "Miss Mary, I must say you drive a hard bargain. Pity you were not born a man, for a top judge surely you would have made."
"Thank you, sir," she murmurs. "I fear you give me too many regards."
"As for you, Lizzy," he exhales, "I must acquiesce to your tastes. Mozart is not so ordinary an inclination. Quite universal, but not ordinary."
"I accept your acquiescence," Elizabeth replies thoughtfully, winding a bit of ribbon about her hand. "Though I must say, I have never been satisfied with containing such a universal preference. And after all, there is one other musician I have a stronger affection for, though it comes as a result of rather heartfelt leanings, completely devoid of any sort of rationality. One may even call such an attachment silly and trite."
"Oh, I doubt that," Darcy answers. "Only the circumstances of the attachment warrant it silly and trite, not the attachment in and of itself. Out with this mystery musician, then."
"Purcell," she says after a while, giving him a long look.
"Purcell?" he repeats, raising a quizzical brow.
"Yes. Henry Purcell," she counters. "More specifically my favorite piece, the rondeau from Abdelazar."
"I see," he replies with slight bewilderment, eyes shifting back down to his paper.
"One might say I held a certain aversion to it," she continues. "In fact I quite despised it, at least in the beginning."
"And why would you despise such a thing?" Darcy inquires. "Surely the rondeau cannot be so offensive to your discerning ear?"
"To the contrary. It was neither the artist nor the piece I found so disagreeable, but rather the circumstances of hearing it. The moment stands out in my mind, for it was the first time this specific partner condescended to request a dance of me, an act rather extraordinary considering his general aversion to such pursuits," she muses with an enigmatic smile. The resoluteness in her voice immediately causes him to look up.
"And what of this dance?" he breathes, eyes locking with hers as an unreadable expression comes to his face.
"Barely tolerable," she counters. "Or so I thought at first, fool I was."
"You were no fool," he quickly replies, clutching the now folded newspaper in his lap. "There were other fools involved, I am sure."
"To the contrary," she murmurs, finding she cannot look away from his piercing stare, the ribbons in her hands suddenly falling forgotten into her lap.
"How remarkable…and so you have remembered this rondeau? Abdelazar? After all of this time? Most extraordinary," he intones, still not breaking her gaze.
"How may I forget that which changed the course of my existence?" she breathes, her cheeks turning a rather deep shade of pink. "Though, it was not the original piece as I recall. More of a variation on it, a sort of postcard to Henry Purcell."
"Most extraordinary," he repeats as his eyes examine her face, only to then brazenly rake across her figure, finally coming to rest in the curve of her lip.
"However, so passionate a piece spelled only a hint of the rather fortunate events yet to come," she utters, tongue nervously darting out to wet her lips.
"Mrs. Darcy, I fear I forgot to tell of you of something this morning," he abruptly exclaims, his eyes never leaving her mouth as he gets to his feet and quickly crosses the breadth between them. Taking her by the hand, he swiftly pulls her to her feet, ignoring the ribbons that scatter from her lap onto the floor.
"Pardon?" Elizabeth questions, raising an incredulous eyebrow as he hastily guides her out of the room.
"Forgive me, ladies. We shall be back promptly," he continues, ignoring his wife's bemused look and giving the usual but oddly brief bow of deference to the two young women. They promptly rise from their seats, performing the usual curtsy in their turn. Barely back to their previous positions when the door closes behind the couple, both easily hear their rushed steps as they head up the main stairs of the house.
"And what do you suppose that was in regard to?" Georgiana asks, heading back to the pianoforte. Thumbing through her music sheets, she begins playing Purcell's Beauty, Thou Scene of Love.
"I assume they both must hold Purcell in high regard," Mary shrugs with a slight grin as she begins picking up the messy array of ribbons from the floor. "A very high regard indeed."
"We have proven most indecent," Elizabeth exhales, trying to slow her breathing as she attempts to rearrange her curls into some semblance of a style. Standing in the front of the mirror in the master bedroom, she snatches a brush from the table and attempts to smooth the rough edges of her hair. However, she finds she's having a difficult time concentrating on the task at hand, for her husband's hands seem to linger on her back as he attempts to button up her dress. "I mean, we have left them alone in the drawing room for some time. Most unbecoming of the hosts."
"'Tis your fault," he murmurs, finally finishing his task. She comes to face him, picking up his hastily tossed cravat from the chair beside her. As he lifts his chin to give her better access, her fingers effortlessly tie it into the usual style he prefers. "Every civilized man knows that talk of dancing is reserved for balls and such," he continues as she takes his waistcoat from the floor and helps him shrug into it. "When such talk comes from the rather striking lips of a woman, it leads to the gravest of consequences, as you can very well see," he smirks, nodding towards the newly rumpled sheets of the bed.
"Is that so?" she retorts, fingers lightly dancing across his throat as she straightens out his cravat and then begins to button him up.
"Aye. Ehrm…well it…uh…is," he snorts, his own breathing quickening now as she nimbly runs her palms along his waistcoat in an attempt to press out the wrinkles. " Elizabeth," he fervently warns.
"Yes?" she replies innocently, eyes meeting his as she continues slowly smoothing down the fabric.
"I implore you," he breathes as her hands now move to his face, her touch feather-light but lingering as she brushes his hair out of his eyes.
"You know very well…what you are…doing," he growls in wanton appreciation.
"I say, of what do you speak?" she counters, the beginnings of a grin tugging at her mouth as she suddenly stops her attentions. Spinning on her heel, she heads towards the door and opens it, he immediately following suit.
"Oh, do not feign such innocence with me," he murmurs, a sly grin on his face as he takes her by the shoulders and turns her around to face him. "If there is one thing I may say about it you, with nary a doubt," he mutters, reaching around her and all but slamming the door shut, "It is that you contain a keen sense of awareness. You cannot possibly claim any sort of ignorance, especially in regards to your deliberately provocative actions. Therefore," he continues, voice low with desire, "A punishment fit for the crime committed must be in immediate order, Mrs. Darcy."
"But we cannot keep them waiting," she sighs as he swiftly closes the space between them, his lips playing along her neck as her fingers hastily unbutton his waistcoat for the second time that day.
"You should have thought of that before you executed such a brazen crime," he retorts.
She cannot help the throaty laugh that escapes from her as his mouth claims hers, his shamelessly lustful intentions as clear as this beautiful spring day in Derbyshire.